Originally conceived in 1922 as the most luxurious co-operative apartment building in Long Beach, it was rival to the Biltmore Hotel in Los Angeles and the Huntington and Maryland Hotels in Pasadena. The construction of the Cooper Arms reflected the building boom after World War I and the discovery of oil in the region.
The Cooper Arms was the first tasteful result of that building boom when it opened in March, 1924 as the city’s first residential high rise, catering to elegant resort living. The original cost of units ranged from $3,800 to $17,000 with the owner being able to request variations in floor plans and built-in amenities. The building faced Ocean Boulevard with a commanding view of the Pacific Ocean and accessibility to the beach. The investors behind the building were a virtual “Who’s Who” of Long Beach. William Prist, Owner and Editor of the Long Beach Press, Dr. W. Harriman Jones, prominent surgeon and of course, Larkin Y. Cooper. Cooper owned a great amount of property in Long Beach, concentrating on property on Ocean Boulevard. He owned the property where the Cooper Arms was built.
The architects of the Cooper Arms were Alexander Curlett and Claude Beelman prominent architects of the day who also designed the Farmers and Merchants Bank building at Pine Avenue and 3rd Street in Long Beach and the Security Bank building at Pine Avenue and 1st Street in Long Beach. Claude Beelman later became a significant architect of buildings on the “miracle mile” of Wilshire Boulevard in Los Angeles. The Cooper Arms was built by the Scofield Construction Company, also the builders of the Biltmore Hotel in downtown Los Angeles. The Cooper Arms is designed in the Italian Renaissance Revival style with elegant architectural and decorative features on both the interior and exterior. The building is a twelve story, steel frame reinforced concrete structure with exterior walls of brick finished in smooth stucco. The ground floor is comprised of both public and private space. Commercial uses are adjacent to an arcade which accesses the Ocean Boulevard frontage.
The Linden Avenue entrance accesses a Spanish Loggia which exits to a large garden on one side and a large public space on the opposite side, known as the “Grand Salon”, designed as a prominent gathering place for the elegant resort residents of the 1920’s. The Grand Salon has an eclectic decorative composition typical of the 1920’s era. Design elements include Egyptian-derived lotus, swags and medallions inscribed with urns and profiles. The large public space also displays a formal marble front Louis XVI fireplace.
The 12th floor Solarium occupies a major portion of the top floor. It was designed to function as a ballroom, meeting room, banquet room and all-purpose informal entertainment center. The room has a domed ceiling with original lotus and bud molding. French doors open onto wrought iron balconies on the north, west and south sides of the room with commanding views of both ocean and city. The original hardwood floors, carefully installed at the time of construction of the building to absorb noise and provide correct resilience for dancing, are still in place and in good condition. Floors 2 through 12 comprise the 159 residential units, once owned as cooperative apartments, today are condominiums.